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If you are currently considering immigrating to Canada, the process may seem a bit daunting, especially compared to how it used to be. Currently, there are three steps that need to be taken before you can enter the country as a legal citizen. These steps include determining your eligibility, applying for citizenship and taking the Canadian citizenship test. Any and all information you need is made available online through Immigration Direct and Canada’s official government website, which includes an in-depth explanation of the point evaluation system.
The process for determining eligibility is fairly straightforward. According to Immigration Direct, adults qualifying for Canadian citizenship must be at least 18 years of age and have permanent resident status for at least three years in the past four, prior to applying. If you are between 18 and 54, you must show fluency in either English or French and must also meet the criminal history requirements.
Minors qualifying for Canadian citizenship must be permanent Canadian residents (there is no minimum residency requirements for minors) and you must have at least one parent applying for citizenship at the same time.
Immigration Application Procedure
After you have determined your eligibility, the next step is to apply. It is important to note that application forms differ depending on what your employment status is/will be. If you are unsure of which employment status to apply for there is an online questionnaire. If you already know your employment status, you can simply select it from a list on the Canadian government’s official site.
Prospective citizens can apply for immigrant status either online or by mail with forms that can be found online. Based on the 2013 immigration statistics, 80 percent of routine citizenship applications take up to 24 months to process, whereas non-routine citizenship applications can take up to 36 months.
Preparation for Application: Document Checklist
- Completed form: Application for Canadian Citizenship – Adults (CIT 0002)
- Photocopies of ID and immigration documents: 1) Either your Record of Landing (IMM 1000) or Confirmation of Permanent Residence (IMM 5292) and both sides of your Permanent Resident Card (PRC) if you have one, and 2) two other pieces of personal ID, one of which must be a photo ID
- Two other photos (in accordance with Citizenship Photograph Specifications CIT 0021).
- Copy of receipt from fees (for a complete list, see “Pay Your Fees” on the CIC’s website)
Other documents you should have include:
- Birth certificate or baptismal certificate
- Marriage certificate
- Adoption, separation or divorce papers
- School records, diplomas or degrees for each family member traveling with you
- Trade or professional certificates and licenses
- Letters of reference from former employers
- A list of your educational and professional qualifications and job experience (or your résumé)
- Driver’s license, including an International Driver’s Permit and a reference from your auto insurance company
- Photocopies of all essential and important documents in case the originals get lost (be sure to keep the photocopies in a separate place from the originals)
- Car registration documents (if you are importing a motor vehicle into Canada)
After your application has been submitted, the next step is to take the citizenship test, which is mandatory for all adults who meet citizenship requirements. The test covers information such as the political and military history of Canada, symbols, systems of government, geography and the responsibilities of Canadian citizens. The test is usually written, however, you may be asked instead to attend an interview with a citizenship judge. To prepare for the test, take advantage of the Canadian government's free study materials.
After you have completed all of these steps, you are ready to immigrate to Canada. The Canadian government’s website has a checklist to help you prepare for a life in Canada. The best advice for crossing the border after attaining citizenship is to be as prepared as possible. You will need to keep important documents on your person at all times during this process, so make sure not to pack them in luggage where they would not be readily accessible. Upon crossing the border, you will be greeted by a representative from the Border Service Agency who will ask you two series of questions, one concerning you and your travelling party, and the other concerning your possessions.
If you need help adjusting to your new life in Canada, there are resources for that as well.